Site Utilities: Search

Over the next few weeks I'll be through some of the utilities on Strobist in the hopes of making the site a little more friendly to the non-power users. There are many general blog functions, like RSS, archives, search, etc., but also some things that are a bit quirky and unique to Strobist.

This time I am going to talk about the search function, which is at the upper left corner of the site. And please note that any search link on this page will obviously produce this page as the first result. Scroll own to see what else gets dragged up.

In addition to wading through the archive in the sidebar at right, you can easily find articles using the search function. This is basically a full-text search that includes the subject and title text of every post (600+) since day one. It is very rudimentary, as there are no logical qualifiers (and, not, etc.) But it does go back to the beginning of the blog, which is a good thing.

One downside: It only returns the first 20 or so posts that fit the search. And since I do talk about the same things a lot, this can be a pain.

The answer is to include extra terms. Single terms like "DIY" max out with very recent posts. So be sure to type in additional terms to narrow the search.

Example: Typing the terms DIY macro box gets you to the little carboard studio thing very quickly.

So, what are the serious people searching for?

Here are the top ten searches, in order, as reported by Google Analytics:

1. Gary Fong - WTF??? (Why the Fongster?) Are you guys playing a cruel joke on me? Ironically, there is only one reference to him. And it is in an otherwise intelligent post. Before this post, at least. Sigh.

2. Snoot - There, that's better.

3. Pocket Wizard - Woulda thought that would beat out "snoot." Be sure to use additional terms. (We never shut up about PW's.)

4. Vivitar - Old-skool flashes. But the single term catches everything. Use additional terms if you tap out.

5. Back light - Steady stream of stuff, right back to Lighting 101.

6. Canon G7 - Is that you searching, Chuck Westfall?

7. DIY - Gary Fong takes 1st place and DIY comes in 7th? Excuse me while I go slit my wrists.

8. D70s - (Can't speak. Still trying to get over the Gary Fong thing.)

9. Wedding - (Sorry ladies, I'm taken.)

10. Custom backdrops - Gets you to the ever-popular and beautiful flash-against-the-sunset technique.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, on the search thing, why not use google?

In the google search box start the search with "" followed by your search terms. For example: pocket wizard canon 430ex

July 25, 2007 11:47 PM  
Blogger Andrew Smith said...

David do you ever shoot weddings? Gary Fong's Lightsphere really is a fantastic piece of equipment for wedding togs. You simply don't have time to light each shot with off-camera lights and the Lightsphere is the next-best option.

All in my humble opinion of course, but it's a fairly common opinion :-)

Having said that (shameless plug ahead) I did got good results with this technique, using one on-camera flash and one hand-held flash:

Hope the link's okay.

July 26, 2007 12:01 AM  
Blogger Jan Klier said...

Actually the best way to build a good search engine for your blog is to use a Google Custom search engine. You define which sites you want to be included (just your blog, or your blog and some other relevant trusted sites), and then you get the HMTL to add the Google search box to your blog. I've done that for my blog, and like the quality of the search combined with the control over the content scope.

July 26, 2007 12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, u can has teh funnies!

July 26, 2007 12:19 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

Good ..
Hey You can view my Blog its also Good

July 26, 2007 4:57 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I think you should release a set of branded strobist related gear. You can sell empty pringles cans, cereal boxes, black straws. Maybe even a late night infomercial.

Call it David Hobby Gear. Since we will shed ourselves of heavy studio lights. People who use it can call themselves, Light Hobbyists. Get it get it....Okay I'll shut up now.

July 26, 2007 6:29 AM  
Blogger Simon Terry said...

Sam, you're onto something there!

There should be Strobist branded gridspots, total cost $0.50 sell it for $69.99, do that for a couple of years then say you'll only shoot weddings for $100,000!

It's the new photographer business plan!

July 26, 2007 10:05 AM  
Blogger Gregg said...

I'm a little surprised by the search ranking for the PWs as well.

I just received my Pocket Wizards. They certainly work as advertised. But somehow I feel violated.
I recently purchased another electronic device, about the same size, for $99. It communicates with billion dollar satellites letting me know where on the planet I'm located, my elevation, which direction I'm going, my speed , estimated time of arrival, the time of day with atomic precision and I can immerse it in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes.....

I buy 3 PWs for $534 and they do 2 things very well..... OFF. ON.


July 26, 2007 2:54 PM  
Blogger p said...

I think you should set the RSS feed so that the entire entry comes to our RSS reader page - I know I prefer that - if I want to jump to the web site and check out other stuff I'm going to do that anyhow.

July 26, 2007 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMHO, if used properly, the Lightsphere is a great addition to a light kit.

It's Fong's idea that it is the end-all-and-be-all of lighting, and that it works just as well as studio lights all the time that's either naive or just marketing hype.

There have been times that I've been glad to have the Lightsphere, the key is to know when it will help, and when it will be useless, and when it will be more of a problem than no light modifier at all.

As I learn more at Strobist, I find I don't use it as much, but last week when I was doing a man-on-the-street interview session it came in handy, as I was able to move around and talk to people (then take their picture.) Had I been using off-camera lighting, it might have looked better but I would have been a bit more limited in talking to people unless I had an assistant (which I don't, yet.)

July 26, 2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger ravin said...

yeah... I've got agree with p just above me.
I slacked off reading the blog for a while because I only got partial posts in my reader... which defeats the purpose of using my reader to make my time online more efficient.

I've removed all the other blogs that do that now... except this one of course.

July 26, 2007 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Gary Fong! Was someone looking for me?

p.s. buy my stuff... it's plastastic!

July 26, 2007 11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hilarous also very surprised about the gary fong searches...thats an odd thing for people to search for on here. I'd say one of the main things i search for is the DIY stuff...i always remember reading it first i always come back to find it.

i agree about the RSS stuff. i would love to have your entire post in the feed so i can read through it that way......unfortunately my company blocks blogs...but in the reader it sometimes works... :)

-Mark Lewin

July 27, 2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gary Fong searches are actually quite easy to explain. Every day he comes by to search and see what people are saying about him.

I've never met another man who more enjoys hearing himself speak, or hearing people talk about him.

Isn't that right Gary? (I know he's reading this.)

September 21, 2007 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, I think it has more to do with wanting to know your opinions on the Fongster. I know that's the only reason I searched that exact query on this lighting-info-rich site.

October 11, 2007 9:41 AM  

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